Should you go Gluten-Free?


Gluten remains one of the hottest topics in the health and wellness industry, with many experts and celebs advocating for and against including it in your diet. Go to the internet and a quick search turns up thousands of links, many of which have nothing to do with Kim Kardashian.

So, the question remains. Should you eat gluten?

If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, definitely not. It's a very serious condition with many long-term complications, so eliminating gluten from your diet is a no-brainer. If you suspect you may have celiac disease, get tested. There is a screening blood test that, if positive, is confirmed with a scope and tissue sample. (Not that you need a reason to get tested and have celiac disease medically confirmed, but you can claim gluten-free food on your taxes as a medical expense.)

But if you don't have celiac disease, it gets more complicated.  Perhaps eating gluten just makes you feel bad and you think eliminating it from your diet will make a difference.

Personally, I eat gluten. I don't have an issue with it. But I know many patients and family who don’t. My wife, for example, has celiac disease and has been eating gluten-free for almost a decade.  I know what you're thinking, "You're a Naturopathic Doctor, you're supposed to hate gluten!”. But most Naturopaths like me aren’t strident about gluten; rather, we take a balanced approach to gluten and diet strategies, employing some when they are appropriate and ignoring others when they aren't. 

I'm not saying I have never recommended a gluten-free diet, or any other type of diet that eliminates a certain food. I have, many times. But I describe these recommendations as more of a self-diagnostic tool to see how a client will feel not eating something. If they feel substantially better, I would suggest that they stop eating that food, at least for a while. If they feel only slightly better, we weigh the pros and cons of continuing eating or not eating that food, and continue the search for the culprit.

Another way to look at a gluten-free diet is as a starting point for a healthy change. I am well-aware that lots of unhealthy choices are gluten-free (pop, chips, etc), and lots of gluten-filled options are healthy (whole-grain bread, etc). When you go gluten-free, you are making a mindful choice to eat in a more deliberate way. I have had many patients who have tried a gluten-free diet even though I had a low suspicion that gluten was the culprit. What happens, without fail, is that they began to transform their eating habits - they cooked more meals at home and they read labels. In short, they became more aware of what they were eating. 

These are the first steps to having the most healthy diet you can. 

If you have any questions about how to reach your full potential, don't hesitate to contact me, book an appointment, or stop by the clinic.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Oake